24 – 25 March 2018

Attitude to Suffering

There is little point in being sentimental about suffering. Suffering could destroy us. W.B. Yeats says, ‘Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart.’ Suffering could take control of our lives with the result that we become perpetual victims.
But suffering can benefit us. Suffering can purify our souls and strengthen our character. It can enable us to tap rich sources of strength within ourselves. It can also soften our hearts and enable us to empathise with other sufferers. The value of suffering does not lie in the pain of it, but in what the sufferer makes of it. We don’t have control over what happens to us, but we do have control over how we react to what happens to us.
For example, two people are seriously injured in a car accident. One chose to live the experience in bitterness. Everybody pitied him.
The other, chose to live the experience in gratitude – gratitude for having survived. The experience taught him a great lesson, namely that life is a precious gift and that no matter what circumstance, we should try to live it fully and joyfully. He became a source of inspiration to everyone.
We should not regard suffering as a punishment from God. God punishes no one. God allows us to suffer. And with God’s help, we can derive good from suffering. Our pain can bring us closer to God. In coping with it we can experience his power, his love.

We are entering Holy Week, through this week we look especially for the example of Jesus. It is a great comfort to know that Jesus, innocent and blameless, has gone done the road of suffering before us and gone down it to the end. Jesus didn’t love suffering, nor did he find it easy. Nor did God demand it from him. It was just that he had to go this way in order to be faithful to the mission God the Father had given him on our behalf. We recall the words of Isaiah ‘Ours were the suffering he bore, ours the sorrows he carried’ (Is 53:4).

Jesus didn’t die to save us from suffering but rather, he died to teach us how to suffer. The road of suffering is narrow and difficult, but not the same since he travelled it. A bright light illuminates it. And even though it leads to Calvary, it doesn’t end there. It ends at Easter. Those who link their sufferings with those of Christ become the source of blessings for others, and will share Christ’s Easter glory.

We look to Holy week with a sense of wonder and awe at the Love Jesus has for us. May we be sensitive to the sufferings of those around us, and ensure they do not have to carry their cross alone.

Love and Peace
Dean Peter